Fondly Remembering Father Regan

The author’s first article about his beloved former Fenwick teacher first appeared in the Alumni Wick in 1985. Here are more of his recollections, 32 years later.

By James Loverde ’64, Guest Blogger

Fenwick Theology Teacher Father James Regan, O.P. (circa 1964).

Surely the sun was not always shining through Fenwick’s high windows during Father Regan’s Religion Class – the last one of the afternoon. But, in my recollections, that was the way it seemed. On afternoons today, notes and memories begin to stir one another like the reds and golds on medieval prints ….

“Candy Spots”

Candy Spots in 1963.

What was the name of a horse doing atop the first page of my newly found notebook from the spring quarter? Father Regan had written it on the blackboard to illustrate a point, as usual. Candy Spots was the recent winner of that year’s Preakness Stakes. The owner of this fine animal once said that he would rather be sick himself than have a sick horse.

We all knew what Father was getting at. He wanted to illustrate the dedication many people had to what was really important in their lives. He concluded by quoting the words of Christ: “Where your treasure is, there is your heart also.”

There were many other moments that none of us need a notebook to remember. “What’s the toughest job in the world, Cahill?” he once asked a good fellow student in a charcoal pullover, “being a teenager on the West Side in 1963?” Father Regan paused for a second, with his fingers holding the yellow chalk like a plucked jonquil. Then he gave the answer himself. Plato had agreed with it many semesters before: “The most difficult task a man can undertake is to be a parent.”

Continue reading “Fondly Remembering Father Regan”

88 Years of Community at Fenwick

‘No One Gets to Heaven Alone’

By Father Richard LaPata, O.P. ’50, President Emeritus (1998-2007) of Fenwick High School

Fr. Dick LaPata serves as Assistant Manager to the Fenwick Fund, formerly known as the Dooley Fund.

When Fenwick was founded in 1929, the founding Friars wished to endow their new school with qualities that were special and important to them. There were certain attributes of the Dominican Order that these Friars wanted their students to embrace. These values were considered the pillars of the Order; they were the building blocks that sustained and gave direction to all Dominicans. These “building blocks” or “pillars” became the foundation of Fenwick High School and are passed on to its students even today. They are prayer, study, community  and preaching (or service).

Today, I would simply like to make a few comments regarding the idea of “community” here at our school. We at Fenwick are committed to become a place where a sense of community is felt by faculty, students, parents, alumni and friends. Here, for example, friendships are nourished. As an alumnus from the Class of 1950, I can say that some of my very best and long-lived friendships were forged here as a student so many years ago.

Beyond the forming of friendships, we want our students to have a sense of belonging to one another while they are in school. This increases our students’ care and respect for one another, thus diminishing incidents of meanness and bullying for which teenagers are often criticized.

Fenwick’s encouraging of a sense of community promotes a spirit of cooperation as students engage in the many activities offered by our school. These include teamwork in sports, in outreach to those in need, in spiritual and religious events such as retreats.

Inculcating the value of community in our students is also based on our belief in what Jesus proclaimed, namely the “kingdom of God.” Jesus gathers us into a society, a community based on our belief in God, to make this world a better place together and to build, finally, the kingdom in heaven. I might add as emphasis that no one gets to heaven alone. It takes a community to get to our final home.

Deepening the Dominican Spirit

Ten Days in the South of France:
How the President of Fenwick High School Spends His Summer Vacations

By Father Richard Peddicord, O.P.

The inspiration to establish the Order of Preachers came to St. Dominic during his time living in the South of France. There he encountered people who had been led astray by the Cathar heresy. Before too long, it became clear to him that the Church needed a religious order dedicated to preaching the gospel. Pope Honorius III agreed and in 1216 formally approved the Order of Preachers with Dominic as its first Master.

There are a number of significant places in the South of France that tell the story of the founding of the Dominican Order and that evoke the presence of St. Dominic and the early Dominicans. I have had the privilege of helping to lead a summer pilgrimage to these “lands of St. Dominic” for the past 12 years. Sr. Jeanne Goyette, O.P. (Caldwell, NJ), Sr. Mary Ellen O’Grady, O.P. (Sinsinawa, WI) and I take 25 pilgrims on a trek to St. Dominic’s country in France. We stay in Fanjeaux with the Dominican Sisters of Sainte-Famille who operate the “Couvent St-Dominique”—a guest house that had been a Dominican priory in the 15th century.

The goal of the pilgrimage is to deepen one’s sense of Dominican life and spirituality. Most of the participants are lay women and men who serve in Dominican ministries—usually in Dominican schools. Since I became president of Fenwick High School, we’ve sponsored one faculty member a year to participate in the pilgrimage. The only stipulation is that he or she must give a presentation on the experience to the full faculty and staff at one of the first meetings of the new school year. This past year, Ms. Toni Dactilidis from the Mathematics Department was our Fenwick pilgrim.

Each day of the pilgrimage begins with Morning Prayer and a conference. The conferences that I present include “Dominic in Fanjeaux,” “Dominic the Itinerant Preacher,” “Dominic and Prayer,” “Truth and Compassion in Dominic’s Life,” “St. Thomas Aquinas and Study,” “The Life and Legacy of Henri-Dominique Lacordaire, O.P.” and “Art as a Means of Preaching in the Dominican Order.” Each day includes an excursion to a significant Dominican site and time for personal and communal reflection. I celebrate Mass for the group several times during the course of the 10-day experience. I can’t help but note that, since it is France, each meal is exquisite!

It is wonderful to watch the participants come together as a community, deepen their Dominican spirit and claim their identity as collaborators in the Dominican mission.

Snapshots of the places on our itinerary each year:

Fanjeaux

The village of Fanjeaux sits on a hilltop. The view from the “Seignadou”—a lookout point associated with St. Dominic—is spectacular. The fields below alternate between wheat and sunflowers. As you can see, it’s easy to imagine that you’re in the 13th century!

St. Dominic’s house in Fanjeaux.

Continue reading “Deepening the Dominican Spirit”

In Loco Parentis Does Not Mean ‘Crazy Parents:’ Why We Place So Much Value on Private Education

Fenwick High School, Oak Park, IL, was founded by Dominican Friars in 1929.

Parochial teachers serve as parental supplements, not substitutes — and therein lies the difference between the Fenwick community and its public-school counterparts.

By Gerald Lordan, Ph.D., Social Studies Teacher

Parents of parochial school students almost universally value their decision to choose religious-based programs over public education for the formation of their children. However, beyond intuition, parents sometimes find it difficult to articulate why they value that decision. An examination of the philosophical foundations of parochial education may enable us to understand on a rational level what we already value on an intuitive level.

Parochial schools have greater social capital than their public school counterparts. Social capital is the agreement among families concerning the core values which identify their behavior.  Parochial school communities often have great diversity among their families by ethnicity, geography, income, and language, but these schools are successful in achieving the goals of their ministries because there is a congruence of core values among families. Good families gravitate toward good schools with good community values. With their obligation to service all families within their geographic attendance area, public schools often have less value congruence and less social capital.

Continue reading “In Loco Parentis Does Not Mean ‘Crazy Parents:’ Why We Place So Much Value on Private Education”

Alumni Spotlight on Daniel Brutto ’74: From Elmwood Park Box Boy to Head of UPS International

By Mark Vruno

When people say that Dan Brutto worked himself through school, they mean it quite literally. “I am a hard worker,” the Elmwood Park native admits. “That’s the way we were raised,” he says of his two younger brothers (also Friars) and sister, who went to Trinity. “We were brought up that our parents got us through [financially] a good high school, but college was on us.”

 

So, the eldest Brutto child caddied for six years at Oak Park Country Club. “I won my first set of used clubs when I was 14,” he fondly recalls. “I was like, ‘You’re giving these to me? You mean I don’t have to buy them?” To “build up funds,” he also worked at Armanetti’s liquor store. When he was 18, Dan started taking the Lake Street elevated train to Loyola University by day and was loading trucks at the UPS Franklin Park facility at night. Thirty-eight years later he retired from the same company: as President of UPS International and former Senior Vice President of United Parcel Service, Inc.

Continue reading “Alumni Spotlight on Daniel Brutto ’74: From Elmwood Park Box Boy to Head of UPS International”

Forever Friars: The Inspiring Story of Bill Jenks ’50

Fenwick High School periodically profiles people affiliated with our community who have since passed on.

Remembering the Spirit and Will of Bill Jenks

By Mark Vruno

To call William “Bill” Jenks ’50 (1932-1989) inspirational might be a gross understatement. But inspire he did and, through his preserved written words, still does nearly 30 years after his death. All of those words – hundreds of thousands of them and millions of characters – were typed on an electronic typewriter by Jenks, who was paralyzed and pecked at the keys using a wooden peg held tightly between his teeth. He wasn’t born without the use of his arms and legs, however.

 

Jenks grew up a healthy boy in an Irish-Catholic neighborhood. In late 1943 the Jenks family moved to Park Ridge, on the northwest edge of the city, where Bill and John, his older brother, transferred to St. Paul of the Cross parish and school (Sisters of Mercy). In the autumn of ’46 Bill followed John to Fenwick High School on a merit scholarship. He began making the daily, 13-mile trek south to Oak Park with their father, Mack, who was a teacher at nearby Austin High, a Chicago Public School. Mack Jenks also was a retired U.S. Army Officer and taught military science to Junior ROTC students at Austin.

Continue reading “Forever Friars: The Inspiring Story of Bill Jenks ’50”

Faculty Focus: Meet Fenwick Math Teacher Maria Nowicki

Ms. Maria Nowicki is in her 10th year of teaching math at Fenwick.

What is your educational background?

MN: I have a BS from the Kelley School of Business [at Indiana University]; majored in Quantitative Business Analysis. Master of Arts from Dominican University in Teaching.

What did you do prior to becoming a teacher at Fenwick?

MN: I worked for Control Data, a division of IBM at the time, right out of school in the late ’80s. I was the interface between programmers and the sales forces. I loved it because it combined my programming background with customer communication on a daily basis.

What are you currently reading for enjoyment? Continue reading “Faculty Focus: Meet Fenwick Math Teacher Maria Nowicki”

Forever Friars: Fenwick Legend and Coach Tony Lawless Was Born 110 Years Ago

This year would have marked the 110th birthday of the late Coach Lawless, who for nearly half a century worked for the students of Fenwick and the school since its inception in 1929.

By Mark Vruno

Happy Birthday to Coach Lawless. This year marks the 110th anniversary of the birth of Fenwick legend Tony Lawless. At least we think so. No one still living is certain when Anthony R. Lawless was born. His nephew, Mike, who like his revered uncle has spent a lifetime as an educator and coach — in the family’s hometown Peoria (IL) High School — says the elder Lawless often fibbed about his age to prospective employers when he was young. “Uncle Tony wanted jobs but didn’t want them knowing how young he was. So we were never exactly sure how old he was,” Mike Lawless notes with a laugh.

What we do know is this: Tony Lawless graduated from Spalding Institute in Peoria in 1924. He played on the Fighting Irish’s national Catholic high school championship basketball team that year, before moving to Chicago to attend college at Loyola University. He later was inducted into Loyola’s Hall of Fame for both basketball and football.

Continue reading “Forever Friars: Fenwick Legend and Coach Tony Lawless Was Born 110 Years Ago”

Accomplished Choral & Theater Teacher Melanie Lamoureux Returns to Fenwick

Soprano Melanie Lamoureux, fresh from earning a Master’s in Music Education from NU, is poised to extend the range of singing Friars’ on-stage performances.

By Mark Vruno

With the start of the 2017-18 school year only five weeks away, Fenwick is pleased to announce the return of Choral and Theater Teacher Melanie Lamoureux to its Expressive Arts Department. Before taking a two-year sabbatical to further her studies at Northwestern University (NU), Lamoureux had been Fenwick’s Director of Honors Choral and Theater Studies from 2012-15. A 2005 graduate of Hinsdale Central High School, she says she is looking forward to working with Choir Director/Fine Arts Teacher Sue Senese and Department Chairperson Rizelle Capito to continue to build on an excellent program here. Ms. Lamoureux again will be teaching junior and senior choir classes as well as an acting class.

“When Ms. Lamoureux came to Fenwick we already had a strong choral program in place,” explains Principal Peter Groom. “In her short time here, she added a Madrigal Choir section and a Theater course. She made an immediate impact, and our students really enjoy working with Ms. Lamoureux,” Mr. Groom adds.

Continue reading “Accomplished Choral & Theater Teacher Melanie Lamoureux Returns to Fenwick”

Faculty Focus: Meet English Teacher Rick O’Connor

English Teacher Rick O’Connor brings his broadcasting expertise to Fenwick’s students.

What is your educational background?

RO: I have a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Rhode Island and a M.A.T. from National-Louis University.

What did you do prior to becoming a teacher at Fenwick?

RO: I was the Executive Producer for “The Steve Cochran Show” on WGN Radio for eight years. Prior to that, I held positions at Fidelity Investments and Putnam Investments in Boston.

What are you currently reading for enjoyment?

RO: When [Basketball] Coach [Staunton] Peck and I are not discussing the Red Sox and White Sox and other world affairs, we recommend books to each other. The current recommendation is Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. I just started it, and so far, so good!

What interests do you pursue outside of the classroom? Continue reading “Faculty Focus: Meet English Teacher Rick O’Connor”